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Posted by W von Papinešu on September 05, 2002 at 19:30:28:
WESTERN MORNING NEWS (Devon, UK) 05 September 02 Mystery Of Snake That Fell From Car (Alex Griem)
The Westcountry is famous for big cat sightings but the region could now be in the grip of some other sizeable beasts, following two separate encounters with large boa constrictors.
In the first incident, in Somerset on Friday, a woman reported that she saw "something huge" fall off the underside of the car she was following.
Thinking it was the car's exhaust, the motorist described how she had pulled over and found an eight-and-a-half foot snake in the middle of the road.
A passing couple who noticed the snake then tackled the potentially lethal constrictor and took it to an animal rescue centre, near Burnham-on-Sea, on the back seat of their car.
Staff at the Secret World Animal Shelter yesterday praised the work of the rescuers, saying that their actions may well have saved the adult boa.
Animal carer Nicki Hawkins said: "Most of the staff here at the centre wouldn't think twice about picking up a snake.
"It had a few injuries when it came in so it was with the vet all weekend, but it's back in the wildlife hospital now.
"It has a jaw injury which is very serious for a boa constrictor as they have to dislocate their jaws to eat.
"It also has some broken ribs, bruising, scuff marks and burns - probably from where it scraped along the road - so it's very poorly.
"They are attracted to heat and it was probably looking for somewhere warm - that's probably why it curled up in the underside of the car. Snakes need warmth and it wouldn't have survived outside for long with winter on the way.
"It's very thin so it is likely it has been in the wild for some time - either someone has dumped it or it escaped."
The rescue of the exotic snake - dubbed "Ebeneezer the Squeezer" by staff at the rescue centre - came only a day before the discovery of an even bigger reptile in North Devon.
An unnamed woman calmly called the RSPCA when she was confronted by a ten foot boa hanging from a tree in her Ilfracombe garden.
RSPCA animal collection officer Diana Lewis said: "I have dealt with many stray snakes before but was not expecting to see something quite as large as this.
"Luckily, the woman who found it was not easily scared - most people would have had the fright of their lives.
"Despite being cold and lethargic, the snake was strong and heavy and was trying to wrap itself around my arm as I unwound it from the tree."
Ellie West, animal care supervisor at Secret World, says sightings of dangerous snakes in the wilds of the Westcountry are very rare, and hopes that two discoveries so close together are a coincidence rather than an indication of a rise in numbers.
Last year an eight-year-old girl was strangled and killed by an 11ft python in the United States and Ellie says both the snakes found at the weekend could potentially have done the same.
She added: "Boa constrictors would easily be able to take pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs in gardens - and if it was a nasty one it could certainly go for a human as well."